一起去吃午饭的路上，亮丽纯真的雅丽对他说：“我不想出师，印师傅，我想永远跟随你。” 印家厚一番心理挣扎后，假装听不懂雅丽的话。雅丽伤心流泪，印家厚硬着心肠走开。 印家厚在小白菜里吃出了半条青虫。他找食堂管理员论理。管理员用打发一个要饭化子的态度对待印家厚，印家厚将饭菜底朝天扣进了他白围裙胸前的大口袋里。
Trials and Tribulations of Life
Female writer Chi Li is a native of Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province. She was born in 1957. Upon graduating from high school, she was sent to the countryside as an educated youth for rehabilitation. In 1976 she attended the Metallurgy Medical School to further her study. She graduated in 1979 and secured a job working as a doctor at the Epidemic Prevention Center under the Health Division affiliated to Wuhan Steel Corporation Ltd. In 1983 she passed the college entrance examination for continued higher education for adults in Hubei province and was enrolled into an adults class at the Chinese Department of Wuhan University. From there she graduated in 1987 and sought a new job as an editor at the editing department of Fang Cao (Scented Grass)， a literary journal sponsored by the Literature and Arts Association of Wuhan (LAAW). In 1990 she moved on to work at Wuhan University as a professional writer. In 1995 she worked as the Dean of the School of Chinese Language and Literature. In 2000 she acted as Chair of the LAAW. In 2007 she was elected Vice Chair of Hubei Provincial Literature and Arts Association, and in the same year she was elected one of Wuhan University’s Outstanding Alumni.
She cut her teeth in writing in 1980. Her published stories include Comings and Goings, Therefore, No Talking of Love, The Birth of the Sun, Trials and Tribulations of Life, You Are a River, Life Show, Just Cry When You Are Experiencing Orgasm, Visiting Mum Wheat, The City of Hers, and many more. She has also published collections of essays that include I Cannot Love You More, Waiting until Water Droplets Turn Into Pearls, and Erected. Her major works can be found in A Classical Collection of Chi Li’s Works (nine volumes in all). She has won many laurels and awards for her brilliant work. Trials and Tribulations of Life won the National Best Novelette Award and the Novel Monthly’s One Hundred Flower Award (a nationally renowned journal specifically devoted to selecting and publishing novels). Mind Ages Faster Than Heart won the first Lu Xun Literary Award. On top of these awards, she has also received many other literary ones conferred by journals of national note such as People’s Literature, Shanghai Literature, The Contemporary, October, Hubei Qu Yuan Literary Award, Hubei Golden Wind Literary Award, and many others. Her awards add up to 80 in all. Moreover, she is a representative of the persuasion of Neo-realistic Writing in China.
One midnight, Yin Jiahou and his wife both wake up startled and notice that their four-year-old son Lei Lei has fallen off the bed and down onto the ground. Yin Jiahou very swiftly and deftly wraps up his son’s wound. His wife, however, takes this accident out upon him, scolding him as an inept man for being unable to come by a house. Yin Jiahou feels that the so-called home turns out to be a balanced beam upon which he and his wife keep a balance while rocking and rolling. The next morning he queues outside of the crowded bathroom, waiting for his turn to wash his face, brush his teeth, and wash his hands. Then he heats the milk and presses his son to get up. Shortly afterwards, he hurries his son to catch the bus, with his jaunty wife lingering at the door seeing them off wistfully.
The bus is terribly congested and Yin Jiahou accidentally bumps into a girl who mistakes him to be deliberately fumbling her body. She therefore curses him as a cad. Talking back for his father, Lei Lei gets kicked by the girl. While crying out, he gives a clean slap back to the girl who, in turn, screams. Yin Jiahou cannot get as delighted as his son from the revenge. On the ferry ship his female colleague is helping feed his son breakfast while he himself is watching others play cards and discussing poems. He rests his body on the side rail of the ship, smoking, with his mind as muddy and muddled as the waters of the Yangtze River.
Having disembarked onto the bank, Yin Jiahou finishes eating his cold noodles and deep-fried dough sticks hastily, and then catches the bus to send his son to kindergarten. After that he runs to his workshop. As it turns out, he is one and a half minutes late for work. He works as an operator in a batching workshop, and the machine he operates is a manipulator imported from Japan. He takes much pride in his job and today his workshop will hold a meeting to select the person who will be entitled to get the bonus. Since the Corporation’s administrative office bans the practice of “everyone gets his bonus in rotation”, when it comes to recommending a bonus-receiver, his turn to get the first-tier bonus worth of 30 yuan will definitely flop. Although there was a great overhaul in April and nobody sweated more and worked harder more than him, to avoid being labeled as practicing the rotation rule his workshop gives him the lowest-tier bonus. That’s the third-tier one worth of 5 yuan, which is less than one US dollar! He becomes inexorably embarrassed by the situation and his apprentice Ya Li comes to his rescue. On their way to lunch at the factory’s canteen, the pure and shiny Ya Li says to him, “I don’t want to end my apprenticeship, Master Yin. I just want to follow you forever!” Struggling mentally for quite a while, he pretends not to have noticed her words. Instead he hardens his heart and goes off, leaving Ya Li heartbroken with tears on her face. In the course of eating lunch, Yin Jiahou finds half of a cabbage worm in the cabbage dish. He goes to the manager of the canteen for explanation but only gets treated very abruptly by him in the way he does with a beggar. In response Yin Jiahou turns the plate full of rice and cabbage upside down, dumping them into the big chest pocket on the front of his white apron. After lunch Yin Jiahou gets back to the kindergarten to have a look at his son, only to find that the head of the kindergarten very much resembles his first love in appearance. Flabbergasted he, in an instant, gets deeply gloomy. Going out of the kindergarten he races to a lonely and neglected warehouse where he wipes tears off the corners of his eyes. He then underhandedly goes to a food store to see how the liquor branded Mao Tai sells there. He has a scheme in mind to buy the liquor to celebrate the anniversaries of his father and his father-in-law with. Upon learning the price, however, he goes away immediately. His fellow companion Jiang, with whom he got acquainted with when in the countryside as an educated youth for rehabilitation, goes down to the south and passes Wuhan on-route. Being too busy to visit him he writes Yin a letter, recalling many fond memories in it and even asking him why he parted company with Nie Ling, his first love. When he is reading the letter, the whole gamut of emotions, from bitterness, sweetness, sourness to pungency, surges into his heart. True then that the dream in his younger days were coated with a heavy idealistic color, but now he understands that he is none other than a very ordinary man.
In the afternoon the director of the factory asks Yin Jiahou for his opinion on Japanese. The reason behind this is that a rumor about him has been cooked up that he is going against a get-together with the Japanese that the factory plans to sponsor. After clearing up this rumor, he then is assigned the task by the leader to organize groups of people to take part in the get-together. For this, he is cursed by several girls from the factory as a “Traitor to China”. Moreover, in the afternoon he donates all of his five-yuan bonus, which he has freshly received in various forms.
After work he takes his son back home. On the ferry ship Lei Lei coats the nose of a little boy with the chocolate of his ice cream, and for this, father and son alike, were skinned clean by the boy’s mum.
They get back home very fatigued. But the delicious food prepared by his wife is awaiting them. After supper, Yin Jiahou goes to the common bathroom within the building to wash dishes. There he learns that the building where they are now living will be demolished. In fact, his wife has already learned this dispiriting news too. It is because she does not want him to get upset for this that she has not told him. His wife now tells him that her aunt and cousin will come and travel in Wuhan and that she has to use a curtain to separate the room into two parts, so that they can stay here for a couple of days. As for where to reside when the demolishing is under way, they have nothing to do but comfort each other by saying, “A road must lie ahead when the chariot reaches the mountain, the boat will naturally straighten itself when it comes to the bridge head, there is no need to worry at all beforehand.”
Trials and Tribulations of Life, published in the 8th issue of Shanghai Literature in 1987, is a work representing the school of Neo-realistic Writing in China. In a mild, heartening, sympathetic, humorous, and approving tone, the writer portrays a kaleidoscopic reality, giving the impression that the reality is real, well, and alive, thereby conveying a sense of situatedness. The novelette is also a break from the conventional writing mold of having either lauding or critiquing leaning. It presents a life full of troubles and trials, joys and delights, with all and everything being endured by a downright ordinary person every day from his ordinary posture towards life, to his ordinary feelings arising out of the life he is living calmly and peacefully. It unveils in a rude and raw way the layered meanings of life through its chaos, ennui, and trifles.
As a representative of the working class in China, the protagonist Yin Jiahou takes pride in his job. However, his daily routine is fully occupied from morning to night by endless engagements, making him not only feel insignificant and merely resign himself to life, but also leaving him stranded and restrained everywhere by unfailing predicaments and troubles of life. These are to the extent to which he is totally unable to get his own destiny under control. With the shifting of space comes the change of his social identity from father to husband to son, from neighbor to worker to lover to son- in-law, from passenger to owner of a house to be demolished, and so on. His troubles and tribulations are at once about sustenance in particular and about life in general. They are his individual troubles as well as the large society’s. Through Yin Jiahoues case the author succeeds in making readers sense the common trifles suffered by humanity and by large. That is, it is unlikely for us humans at this particular historical epoch to transcend and overcome that monotonous, endless, and repeated cycle of life that, albeit tiny, ruthlessly exhausts our life. It is against such backdrop that the protagonist’s kindness and his undaunted and never failing pursuit amid trials and tribulations that make themselves a solid and authentic presence, which set us contemplating over life itself and striking the sympathetic chord in our heart.
作者 | 北京语言大学教授 李玲
译者 | 徐海铭
审校 | Kevin